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  US soldiers can 'see Baghdad's lights'
Updated 02 April 2003, 22.46
US troops are in action near Karbala
US troops are within 30 kms (20 miles) of Baghdad and are preparing for what could be the biggest battle of the war so far.

Some of the troops say they can even see the city's lights.

Coalition forces are heading towards Baghdad

Importantly, they have attacked units of Saddam's tough, loyal soldiers - the Republican Guards - to make sure they aren't a threat to them as they move closer to the capital.

The guards were bombarded at Karbala and Kut, close to Baghdad.

Tough time ahead

US marines say they have captured a key bridge at the city of Kut in the east, which gives them free access into the capital.

But US officials have warned they are not expecting to "drive into Baghdad and suddenly seize it".

They have also said there is some tough fighting ahead.

Private Jessica Lynch has been rescued

On the other side of the Euphrates River, a convoy of coalition troops are moving forward.

BBC reporters say the people of Baghdad are aware that US troops are slowly circling their city.

The bombing campaign continued in the capital on Wednesday, with reports of loud explosions.

It's thought a bomb has hit one of Saddam Hussein's presidential palaces.

Other main points:

  • Iraqi satellite TV has shown Saddam Hussein holding a meeting, looking relaxed and smiling. There is no sound and it is not clear when the pictures were recorded.

  • US military says it is looking into claims that coalition aircraft bombed a Red Crescent maternity hospital in Baghdad.

  • US special forces rescue Private Jessica Lynch, 19. She was taken prisoner by Iraqis but was freed when troops stormed the hospital where she was held. The bodies of eleven people were also found at the hospital, but it's not known if they were US soldiers too.

  • US military says it found two banned al-Samoud missiles on a farm near Hilla in central Iraq.

  • Desert Rats found hundreds of weapons stored in a primary school near Basra. The school has been shut temporarily.


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